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Dalit women activists equate India's untouchability with apartheid during campaign in nine US cities

By Our Representative
In a strong effort to internationalize the view that the treatment meted out to Dalits in India should be treated on par with the apartheid, a delegation of the All-India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM) has wrapped up its tour of nine American cities in order to highlight centuries old "oppression" suffered by India's “untouchables” within the Hindu caste system.
Consisting of well-known Dalit activists Anjum Singh, Sanghapali Aruna Lohitakshi and Asha Kowtal, the delegation went around the US under the banner of #DalitWomenFight, highlighting how over 260 million people in India today, with more in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, have been victims of the type of treatment that Blacks in the US have had to suffer.
AIDMAM representatives, during their visit, reportedly shared stories of how Dalit people have traditionally held occupations considered “ritually impure” — which include "manual labour like removal of waste, leatherwork, butchering, and even musicians whose instrument involves an animal’s flesh (like a drum)".
The delegation said the "atrocities" committed against Dalit people are staggering even today, as on average a crime against a Dalit person happens every 18 minutes, and three Dalit women are raped every day. Thirteen are murdered every week. A majority of these crimes are committed with impunity.
“We realize this is a battle that we cannot win by ourselves,” said Asha Kowtal, general secretary, AIDMAM, explaining the reason for the tour. “The movement needs global solidarity from oppressed communities across the world and allies who will stand with us in this struggle to overhaul institutions reeking of caste and patriarchy.”
Taking note of the delegation, blogger Gabriel Teodros wrote in http://www.seattleglobalist.com how a conversation with the Seattle South Asian Solidarity Alliance and #DalitWomenFight shockingly highlighted certain "firsthand accounts" of the atrocities that have been going on in India, including a story about a woman who was murdered and tortured with cigarette burns all over her body.
"Her death was ruled a suicide — an eerie similarity to what happened to Sandra Bland in Texas", commented the blogger.
Manisha Mashaal, field organizer with AIDMAM, pointed how she was "enraged" by the case a young woman who was gang raped and murdered in Haryana on her way to school.
"This story sent shivers down my spine... There was so much silence around the case of a young Dalit student being brutally murdered in her own community", Mashaal said, adding, "We organized family and community members to the local police station for the results of the autopsy reports. We were treated with so much disrespect at the police station, where officers kicked the dead body of the victim."
New York based filmmaker, musician and transmedia artist Thenmozhi Soundararajan showed parts of her documentary she is working on after her two years of her journeys with grassroots leaders.
“I think in places like Seattle, we’re dealing with ‘Caste 2.0’ where we’re seeing a preponderance of highly educated upper-caste Indians joining these massive tech companies, and it’s like the worst of all worlds because they are financially wealthy, incredibly arrogant and they try to recreate casteist structures within their companies and inside the South Asian institutions of Seattle", she said.

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